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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best psychology books I've read
This is a classic in social psychology. Nisbett and Ross, two prolific psychologists, argue that human behaviour is more the result of context than personality, with people often mistakenly inferring the causes of their own and other's behaviour. They highlight that laypeople (and even academic psychologists in everyday life) often ascribe personality traits to explain...
Published on 3 Jan. 2012 by Blahblahblah

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Exercise caution - bit of marketing sleight of hand here
For clarity (and whilst it does state this in the description, although not before it has liberally applied Malcolm Gladwell's name to attract attention), this is a book originally written in 1996, presumably to a fairly muted reception, which is now trying to breathe new life into itself by associating itself with Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell has provided a short...
Published on 28 May 2013 by R. Broadbent


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best psychology books I've read, 3 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: The Person and the Situation (Paperback)
This is a classic in social psychology. Nisbett and Ross, two prolific psychologists, argue that human behaviour is more the result of context than personality, with people often mistakenly inferring the causes of their own and other's behaviour. They highlight that laypeople (and even academic psychologists in everyday life) often ascribe personality traits to explain observed behaviour - John steals because he is dishonest and Jane volunteers at a soup kitchen because she is kind. However, as Walter Mischel first pointed out in Personality and Assessment, existing research shows that cross-situational correlations of personality traits (e.g. conscientiousness at work versus at home) are remarkably low (around .10, which is indistinguishable from no correlation). Instead, Nisbett and Ross point out in a gleefully contrarian manner that it's the situation, and the individual's interpretation of that situation, that determines behaviour.

The highlight of the book for me is that canonical psychology studies are reviewed through the lens of situationism, giving an interesting slant to Milgram's Obedience to Authority studies, Festinger's Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Latane and Darley's bystander studies, and Asch's 'conformity' experiments (I put the word in inverted commas as Nisbett and Ross correctly point out that the original experiment was as much about independence as it was about conformity, disabusing the much-repeated myth of this classic study). Anyone interested in these classics will be satisfied with the fascinating situationist re-interpretation.

This book is dense - not in the sense that it's hard to read (it could be comfortably read by interested laypeople, especially fans of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers or The Tipping Point, but I'd advise skipping the particularly intense chapter about statistics). Rather, it's dense in that it contains so many fascinating ideas for such a slim volume. One minor gripe is that for this Pinter & Martin re-issue, the writers have elected to add an epilogue rather than revise the book in line with current research. In the epilogue they all-too-briefly mention the tantalizing idea about the interaction of the person via the situation, rather than the person versus the situation, an idea I would have loved to see given more space. This review can't do justice to the sheer depth and breadth that this book covers, so I can only recommend for anyone interested in social psychology to pick up this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fundamental attribution error, 19 July 2012
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This review is from: The Person and the Situation (Paperback)
Perhaps the major insight of social psychology is that situational factors and pressures exert more influence on behaviour than commonly thought. This means that differences in personality are actually far less predictive than we expect. Yes, we see people acting in consistent ways over time -- e.g. someone is often shy and bookish, or alternatively extroverted -- but much of this perceived stability is confounded by our tendency to observe that person across similar social situations. Put that person into a novel area, for example a psychologist's lab (e.g. in the infamous Milgram obedience experiments Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View), and a lot these individual differences will be washed away. For example a majority of subjects ended up giving what they thought were lethal electric shocks in some versions of Milgram's study.

"The fundamental attribution error" was coined by the authors to explain how we tend to underestimate these situational variables in our explanations of others' behaviour, instead attributing their actions to aspects of their personalities. Seeing Bob acting in an abrupt manner makes us think him a rude and inconsiderate person. Interestingly, we're actually more accurate when looking at our own behaviour, being much readier to attribute actions to situational variables -- e.g. having a poor night's sleep.

Perhaps the most liberating aspect of this research is the potential it uncovers for changing behaviour that we dislike both in ourselves and others. For instance the authors share some successful interventions in education and the workplace, and also dissect some less successful studies under the lens of social psychology. Some other examples of how this research is improving lives are in Redirect and Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very informative read!, 31 Dec. 2011
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Alyson (Saltash, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Person and the Situation (Paperback)
I found this book to be very well written, giving a thoruogh insight into the major research and philosopies within Social Psychology. I didn't read this book for study purposes so it was a little difficult to get through given the academic language but I imagine it would be a fantastic companion to anyone studying Social Psychology. I am a psychology graduate but I didn't opt to take social psychology as a major option in my degree so this book really added to my knowledge and understanding while also acting as a reminder of what I had previously learned. It's well refenced and would be very useful for essay or report writing. Overall I would definatley recommend this book. well written, well refenced and a great overview!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Caveat emptor!, 12 Jan. 2012
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dr_sasp (England, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Person and the Situation (Paperback)
For those who are less than pedantic in purchasing publishing: Malcolm Gladwell is not a main author of this book. He has written the foreward and endorses the text.

This is not apparent when using the Recommendations link, where he is listed first among the authors, or on the Amazon for mobiles app.

Useful and interesting text, nonetheless: just not what I thought I was buying.

sasp
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Exercise caution - bit of marketing sleight of hand here, 28 May 2013
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R. Broadbent "RJB72" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Person and the Situation (Paperback)
For clarity (and whilst it does state this in the description, although not before it has liberally applied Malcolm Gladwell's name to attract attention), this is a book originally written in 1996, presumably to a fairly muted reception, which is now trying to breathe new life into itself by associating itself with Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell has provided a short introduction in which, presumably for a fee, he acknowleges the authors' contribution to the field of behavioural economics.

Gladwell is an interesting, thought-provoking, highly intelligent author capable of creating fascinating insights by bringing together seemingly unrelated information. This book, by contrast, is flat and lifeless, and serves only to illustrate how much Gladwell and others have raised the bar.
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4.0 out of 5 stars classic updated, 29 Sept. 2012
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AvrilP "AvrilP" (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Person and the Situation (Paperback)
Always wanted to read the first version, this helps to put a perspective on new thoughts and findings - well written, but not for the faint-hearted!
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short review, 20 April 2012
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This review is from: The Person and the Situation (Paperback)
The book came more or less on time, but the order of the pages is not right. You can read page 18 and the next one is 22, so the reading of the book is quite difficult. Otherwise the book is really good.
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The Person and the Situation
The Person and the Situation by Richard E. Nisbett (Paperback - 30 Aug. 2011)
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